Alumnus creates own start-up
We met Filippo Neri who is about to create his own start-up in the field of gardening. He told us about the challenges involved in such a project.

After some years of thinking, I am going to found my start-up – a kind-of Uber for gardeners.

After several years in research roles as a machine learning expert both in academia and private R&D Labs, and having enjoyed a Marie Curie Fellowship and a few other professional experiences, I have decided to apply myself to a new challenge: to start my own company. This won’t just be an ordinary professional firm, but a start-up that follows as closely as possible the Silicon Valley path of development.

Trying to develop a Silicon-Valley-style start-up in Europe is challenging, but doing it in Italy will add some special ‘treats’ to the challenge.

So first things first, the start-up will focus on developing a Uber like service for gardeners. Anyone wanting someone to take care of their garden can select one of the many available gardeners in the Uber-for-Gardeners app. The user may select according to type of service and price, and the app will also manage the payment.

Setting up the app and introducing it to the market involve a number of technical and business challenges. But the actual product is not really the focus of my attention at this stage. What is important is to plan and organise the work from the beginning so that the start-up is able to quickly locate a product market fit, or create a new market if needed (you may have heard of this concept as part to ‘The Lean Startup Methodology’ by E. Ries).

The other unmissable element of a SV style start-up is its ability to scale fast: it is important to be able to service more and more users in different markets/countries quickly. In the meantime, I am trying to recruit smart collaborators (I have just posted a job advertisement on the MCAA and EURAXESS websites) to help me create the company.

How does all this sound for a new challenging task for a Marie Curie Alumnus?

At this moment, I have no idea if I will be successful or not. However, I hope that other Marie Curie Alumni will take up the challenge of applying their significant skills (yes, they have plenty!) to the start-up arena as I would really like to soon see a Facebook or Google-type of company being created by one of us in Europe. Good luck with your current endeavours!

Filippo Neri
Marie Curie Alumnus
Assoc. Prof. of Computer Science
Dept. Computer Science (DIETI)
University of Naples

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